The Pit Stop

April 1, 2007 5:51 PM

Wild end to short track race...

Rain was in the Martinsville area today as cars did some short track racing in the Goody’s Cool Orange 500. Denny Hamlin took the poll for the second Car Of Tomorrow race.

In pre-race interviews both Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch got interviewed. “I honestly don’t know,” said Tony Stewart on why he is so good at this racetrack. Kyle Busch was asked again why the car last week sucked and he stated that the car wasn’t fun to drive. He stated that car this week a bit better to drive.

An early caution occurred on lap 38 as Bobby Labonte crashes hard into the wall. Bobby stated that something on the car must have broke. He would come back out on the racetrack well over 100 laps down.

For the first fifty-five laps Denny Hamlin had the lead for most of the race so far and then Jeff Gordon took over the lead of the race.

Green flag racing occurred until lap 90 for Robby Gordon who blew a tire and then hat trouble getting down low enough to get to pit road. At lap 100 it was Jeff Gordon in the lead with Denny Hamlin stuck in second place.

During the next 105 laps it was mainly green flag racing with mainly the cars of Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin leading the race. One caution did come out at lap 152 for the spinning car of AJ Almendinger.

Lap 205 saw the second caution of the day come out for Robby Gordon with another flat tire. Lap 217 saw a caution for Jeremy Mayfield and his right front flat tire. During the mass pit stop Denny Hamlin has a bad one putting him back to around 10th place. This left Tony Stewart in the lead for only a short time before Jeff Gordon took the lead of the race.

With 242 laps in Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets the lead of the race for the first time today.

With 212 laps to go Kevin Harvick goes behind the wall with the same fuel pump problems that plagued cars last week. Danny Lawrence who is an engine builder for Richard Childress Racing said, “Had to replace all the lines to get this car going again.”

With 185 laps to go Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets the lead of the race again. He keeps the lead of the race through the next two cautions. One for David Stremme and yet another caution for Robby Gordon

Around 150 laps to go and the rain was only a few miles away from the track and the red flag for rain comes out seven laps later. At the time of the red flag it was Dale Jr. in the lead of the race with Jimmy Johnson in second. A few driver interviews occurred during the red flag time. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that he was driving pretty hard at the time the rain was close to the racetrack. “Unfortunate pit stop,” said Denny Hamlin. “So hard to pass.”

Around 30 minutes of red flag time and it was go time again for the drivers. When the pits opened again it was only a couple cars that wanted to come including Jimmy Johnson and Kyle Busch.

With 124 laps to go Tony Raines smacks the wall hard. This caution brings in the leaders of the race. Earnhardt Jr. leads the cars off pit road, but Kyle Busch does not pit to take the lead of the race. It did not take long and Jimmy Johnson has the lead of the race again.

With 76 laps left a tire blows on Dale Jarrett’s car and then Kevin Harvick parks his car on the race track for a piece of foam that caught on fire. Harvick stated that the right side door caught on fire.

Kyle Busch pits giving up the second place spot. By the time the caution came out Jimmy Johnson was still leading the race while Jeff Gordon was able to move his way up to fourth.

With 53 laps to go Jeff Gordon finally passes Denny Hamlin for second place. With 40 laps to go Gordon was right behind Jimmy for the lead of the race and Kyle Busch has moved his way back into fifth.

With 35 laps left the leaders got into heavy traffic. Eight laps later and the caution comes out for a spinning J.J. Yeley. The green flag drops with 18 laps left and Kyle quickly passes Earnhardt Jr. for fourth.

During the final 10 laps of the race Jeff Gordon gave lots of bumps to the car of Jimmy Johnson and tried to pass him on the inside, but Jimmy was so good on the outside Jeff could not get the job done. He best chance was on the final corner of the race, but it wasn’t enough to win the race.

This win was Jimmy’s third win of the season in six races this year and was last done by Jeff Gordon in 1996.

“Hardest driving I ever done,” said Jimmy in victory lane. He also stated that he wanted the bottom of the racetrack and that he defended it.

“Only way to get by him was to wreck him,” said Jeff Gordon who finished in second. “I tried to move him.”  He also stated that he was not going to wreck a guy to win.

“Came up short again,” said Denny Hamlin who came in third. He sated that he just did not have the car in final short run.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. stated that he wished that he won the race and that he had a great racecar.

In points Jeff Gordon extends his lead over Jeff Burton to 28 points. Jimmy Johnson rockets up to third place while Mark Martin who did not race again falls all the way back to 15th over 300 points behind the leader.

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